Food can arguably be understood as a gateway to one’s history and heritage: the richer that is, the tastier it gets.
Due to its geographical location, Saudi Arabia is a melting pot of cultures, a bridge between the East and the West that can be witnessed through the country’s hearty food scene. Those who have been will know how appetising it is to wander through the country’s delicacies by swifting past Jeddah’s historical Al Balad district.
Enough to please any given appetite, big or small, we’ll be visiting the age-old quarter of the Kingdom’s second-biggest city to try and lure you into some of the worth-the-detour dining spots and most of all savour the family stories that lie behind the dishes.
As the municipality has just recently started shedding light on some of the institutions that make the area glitter through their mouth-watering Ji3an series, we’ve decided to pluck five of our favorites out to introduce you to the Saudi’s blooming street food scene.
The family business has seen quite a crowd since its opening over 20 years ago as everyone from princes, ministers, club presidents as well as athletes have sat down to enjoy a plate of Basali’s delicious nibbles. Specialised in seafood, the restaurant is a hidden gem with a decor that brings you back to the relaxing coast.
Forn Al Sheikh
Also set in Jeddah’s historic centre, Forn Al Sheikh carries a long history of craft and tradition when it comes to bread and food. The bakery perfumes the surrounding streets with the smell of loaves as they produce around 3000 a day with a savoir fair that is yet to be matched or equaled. Garnished or plain, the spot’s fame is a result of the overbearing love and quality with which the goods are made as well as the continuous presence in the city that’s been spreading for over a century now.
Food is always better when it is made with love and passion, and Foul Fattah does just that. It is a place where money does not rule every transaction and where heritage and respect always have the upper hand. We all know that the early bird gets the worm and this spot is exactly the same as it is often a victim of its own success with stocks depleting before the clock hits noon. What are you waiting for?
Can anywhere be more traditional than at Bashan’s? With no tables or chairs, the restaurant serves you as you are sitting on the floor in remembrance of the owner’s grandparents who used to eat that same exact way. Making no distinction between yourself and your neighbours as you are all sat on the same level, the small canteen can only cater 35 visitors at a time making it the ultimate intimate and immersive experience that only those who know about it will enjoy.
Baeesa Rais AlMandi
Mandi is a well recognised dish in the region. The coal oven technique is a must in its preparation and has been the trademark of this restaurant since 1929. In the routine and memory of most inhabitants of Jeddah, the Gold Market Street spot is a staple of the city’s scene as its longevity has become a source of pride over generations for the owners as much as for the customers who never miss a hearty meal there.